Sunday, 29 September 2013

Two-Tone Green Underwood Noiseless

Very occasionally an unassuming typewriter case up the back of a shop yields something very, very special. This was one of those cases.

Amongst an assorted collection of other typewriters, this typewriter was in its case up the back of a Melbourne second hand shop, on the outskirts of the CBD. Even in the dim light once the case was opened, what was inside seemed to glow.

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However, having been bought in Melbourne, it had to be transported back to Canberra. First was the Melbourne Tram leg, then the air-port shuttle bus leg and finally the aeroplane leg. The first two stages were successful, however the third was nearly thwarted when the young fellow manning the x-ray machine at airport security decided that the ominous black case needed to be “checked out”. His supervisor appeared, an older man, who took one look at the screen and declared: “No problem, it’s a typewriter.” Typewriter Insurgency Mission: Get typewriter through airport security was successful.

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There are a few little patches where the paint has rubbed off, and there is a little bit of internal rust, but neither of these slight imperfections takes away from the visual effect of this machine.

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Serial Number: 735066

Enter TYPEWRITER, stage left

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“Jasper, could I please borrow your typewriter?” asked the director of Stockholm, an original musical theatre production, the proceeds of which went to charity.

“Er, which one?” I asked. “There’s just over thirty-five to choose from.”

“Oh my god.”


I was privately pleased that a picture of the typewriter I loaned – a Smith-Corona Clipper – and phone made the paper last week. The typewriter appears less than one centimetres across on page B21, but it was still there on top of the three centimetre wide table, nonetheless.

Now before any eagle-eyed readers bombard the comments section, I know, I know: the typewriter, and the phone, are of the wrong era. I offered a Remington Portable #2 that would have been right for the times, but the weightiness of the Smith-Corona was what one the director over, I suspect. Unlike the Remington, that Smith-Corona wasn’t sliding anywhere. And the phone, too, I know suggests a time more like 1967 – but there wouldn’t be too many people paying more attention to the phones and typewriters than the performance itself.

(I’m the sort of person, I’ll admit, that takes great joy in pointing out these sorts of historical inaccuracies. I’m no fun to watch movies or television that might include typewriters in them with. I can’t withhold my remarks about the sheer level of ridiculousness of having a Nakijima ALL in 1954, as much as I try to keep quiet. But with this musical I assumed that I would be one of a handful of people in Canberra that would notice the time-period problem with the typewriter.)

I did thoroughly enjoy the production, and very much liked the choreographed inclusion of Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter.